Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Powerful Words

Don and Trish Pierce are pastor friends of ours from Lincoln County Tennessee.  Don posted this Saturday on Facebook.....and I decided to post a copy of it here to share with you.....just in case you did not see it on Facebook.

POWERFUL WORDS.....

Don Pierson
August 20 at 9:46am ·
Most know what tomorrow is - Sunday. For some it will mean a day off, for others time at the lake or for some other recreational activity. Are you aware that there are 365 days in a year? 8,760 hours in a year? 52 weeks in a year? Are you aware that if you go to church each week for one hour how small of a % of your time for that year it actually is?
So the next time you start trying to convince yourself and God that you are following Him then you might want to take an inventory of the hours you give Him.
Hey I know what you are thinking, "you don't have to go to church to follow Him." One question, Does following Him mean doing what He asks?" The answer is yes. So if He tells you not to forsake the gathering of yourselves together with other believers and you chose to stop gathering yourself together with other believers, are you then doing what He asks? The answer is no. So you might want to read what God says in Hebrews 10:25 before you start trying to convince God and others that you are following Him.
Tomorrow is Sunday! It is the day of worshipping your King and Lord. That is if He is your Lord. Find a church to worship Him, give Him a small portion of your time, He has given you all of His.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pokemon

Okay....I guess I am showing my age, but I just don't get the Pokémon Craze.  I really thought very little about it until it began to interfere with MY LIFE.  Yes....you heard me right.....

My husband and I typically drive downtown Dayton in the evening and take our walk around the courthouse and down the streets.  We got busy during the summer, canning, etc. and neglected our walking so it was a little over a month when we decided it was time to jump on the band wagon again.

We can barely walk because of the huge crowd of Pokémon Players standing in the way.  They are EVERYWHERE.  And....they obviously are in their own world and do not even see the few of us that are there just to get our exercise.

When I first began to hear about Pokémon....it brought me back to several years ago when our 27 year old was in school...........he collected Pokémon cards.  (In fact he probably still has his collection of coveted cards.)  WOW....how time changes...........CARDS are NOT what its all about.  Grown men and women; people of all ages and genders are in their vehicles and walking catching and capturing these little creatures.  Wheww.....that is too much for me.

But....I got to thinking....
Isn't it sad that we, as Christians don't have the passion, that drive and that motivation to go out and catch, capture and bring in the lost souls?  What a revival we would have if Christians could just get the Pokémon Craze....when it comes to winning souls to Christ.  Just a thought.....

Friday, August 19, 2016

Waiting is Work

I don't consider myself a patient person.

Whether it is weight loss or the loading of a web page, I want to see results now.

My two older daughters know that I don't like to be kept waiting, that delayed obedience is disobedience and that they had better at least answer me when I call.

Yet, sometimes waiting is the very work that God calls us to.

When He calls us to wait, we can take solace that we are in very good company with many heroes of the Bible. Moses waited for a son. Joseph waited to see the visions God had given him come to pass. All of creation, from Adam and Eve on waited for God to fulfill His promise in the garden by sending His people the Messiah.

In the hustle and bustle of my life and the crowded cluster of thoughts that consume my mind, I am convinced that I simply don't have time to wait. Yet, God knows better. He always does.

In the waiting, He gets my attention. In the waiting, I find the time to ask more questions, dig a little deeper, and press in closer. In the waiting, I am more aware of what He may be doing because I am anticipating that He is going to do something.

YES! It is incredibly easy to get weary. YES! It can be overwhelming and tiresome. YES! It can be downright hard.

But the Bible tells us that the waiting is good and that God is good to those who wait for Him.

"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, 
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly 
for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:25-26

What should we do in the waiting? 
Notice that the passage says that the Lord is good to the soul that seeks Him. To experience His goodness in the waiting, we must seek Him. 

How should we wait?
It says we should wait quietly. Ouch. I don't want to wait quietly. I want to wait loudly - complaining and drawing attention to my plight and struggle. I want everyone to know . . .  

You may be able to tell by reading my posts this week that I  am in a very definite period of waiting. I am asking God questions, tough questions, and seeking His will. I loved Dana's post last week titled "Struggle Well." That is definitely something I am trying to do . . . 

Perhaps in a later post someday I will be more free to share details of what I am waiting on God for, but for now, I hope to encourage you who are also waiting. 

First, you are not alone. It can be hard to relate to the Bible guys and gals when the Scripture condenses  years of waiting in to a short phrase or seems to skip a couple of decades between chapters. Yet, the waiting was real then and it is very real now, for those of us that find ourselves waiting. 

Second, as you wait, claim and cling onto to passages of Scripture that God has told you to be true. For me, I am hanging onto the passage above and four verses that precede them. I'll close with them. They've been huge for me and I have shared them with a couple of others too. I just never imagined that I would find such encouragement in the book of Lamentations?! 

"But this I call to mind,
and therefore have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
the are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
therefore I will hope in him."
Lamentations 3:21-24

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Book In The Bible

I know I am not alone. I know you too have often wished you could open your Bible and turn to the book that bears your name so you could know what God would specifically want you to do in a certain situation.

Yet, none of our faith heroes whom we learn about on the sacred page had such a resource to figure out God's will for their lives. They didn't even have the access to God's written word the way we do! Most all of them in the Old Testament didn't have the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them to prompt and prod them along.

We've all longed for the specific 411 on our lives, trying to verify what we think God may be asking of us to do. It's easy to bemoan and despair, losing nights of sleep and gaining extra weight from the "needed" comfort food to get us through.

We just don't want to make a mistake.

As I've gotten older, (not necessarily wiser) the uncertainty seems so much more scary. My husband and I have been entrusted with three little souls. Our decisions don't just affect us. They affect them and we really don't want to blow it.

The "What If" Game becomes suffocating. The ramifications seem daunting if things go bad, and, of course, my first assumption of any possible outcome is almost always negative.

So, how do we know what God's will is?

I don't have an easy, pat answer to this question. No acronym or sing-song saying to sum it up into a neat little package topped off with a bow will do.

I did see a saying though recently that rang true:

"Don't Say God Doesn't Speak, If Your Bible Is Closed."

This summer my husband and I have been seeking God's direction. We have been asking Him some questions that we wish we could do a concordance search and find where in the Bible the scriptures tell us that this is what the Vinsons should do in the summer of 2016.

I had been reading through the book of John. In it's pages Jesus tells us repeatedly that we don't have because we don't ask. So we began to ask. God answered - not always in the way we wanted Him to, but He was always faithful to answer. He spoke to us through the Bible.

Finishing the book of John, I continued reading a few verses a day into the next book, the book of Acts. As I read about Paul's travels and the moving of the Holy Spirit, again I found God speaking to me, Tara, in my modern-day, current circumstances. 

No, my name was not printed on the page, but words and phrases seemed to jump out at me. I would begin to contemplate the passage and pray through it and ask God what this could mean. He would answer. 

In recent months, the Holy Spirit has really convicted me about my closed Bible. Having grown up in church, being married to a minister and working at a church for many years I had become very self-righteous and prideful. I had taught the Bible in various settings to various age groups for various lengths of time. I was using the Bible BUT I would not to allow the Holy Spirit to use it to speak to me. 

God showed me my need to really ingest and digest the Word. 

Not to earn a GA badge or some jewel in my heavenly crown. Not to show off or to brag about how much scripture I had memorized.Not to teach a class or lead a discussion ---- BUT to truly know His will for me. 

It may not be highlighted under a fancy subtitle, but what I need to know from Him can be found in His word. My first name, maiden name or last name won't be found on the page of any Bible unless it has been written inside the front cover, but I am finding that there IS truth on every page specifically for ME.

Can you share a time from either recently or awhile ago where you knew God was speaking to you directly from the Bible? 

If so, please share. Let this be a place where we can encourage each other in our search for His truth for our lives. 

If not, I challenge you to ask Him to reveal Himself to you this way. I really think He would delight in your request. Afterall, He will be glorified as you seek Him instead of worrying and trying to figure things out on your own. 

Maybe we don't have all our own books in the Bible so we will learn to depend and submit all the more on Him.... Hmmmm.....

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Know Who Does

As a minister's wife and a Sunday School teacher and a weekday church preschool director many people expect me to have all the answers.

Heavens! Even in my "job" as a mom, my three girlies expect me to have all the answers to all their questions all the time.

Sometimes just because we profess to be Christians, we've been put on a kind of pedestal where people assume that we have it altogether and have it all figured out.

Sometimes I believe that hype - or at least believe that is the way it SHOULD be - never questioning or doubting, always knowing, agreeing and obeying.

Yet, when I am honest with myself, my doubts seem dangerously huge and my questions seem to mock my very identity. If I was a "good" Christian, or minister's wife, or Sunday School teacher, then I wouldn't feel this way.

I tell my Sunday School class of high school seniors all the time that it is okay to question God and to seek His answers. The Bible is full of people who did that and God never failed to answer them, not once. Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul - the list goes on.

In fact, it tells us repeatedly that if we seek Him with our whole heart, that we will find Him and that He isn't far from any of us. He is more than big enough to handle whatever mountain of doubt and delusion we may feel buried under. Besides, how little must I think of Him if I don't think He can handle all my insecurities and issues.

Even the apostle Paul admits to being perplexed, but not crushed. (2 Corinthians 4:8). Here the guy with ALL the answer admits to not knowing - BUT that was okay, because it did not crush him. And it won't crush us either. Take courage! Even in our "not knowing" we are in good company.

Sweet Sister, it's okay not to have it all together and to not have the answer to every question. You don't have to live up to all the hype and everyone's every expectation of you. I'm not just saying this to give myself a pass or to try to type some words to placate both of us in our ignorance.

It is in these times of open honesty, when we confess before the Lord and others that we are lacking, where He can take over and make it all make sense. It may not happen instantly and we may not get all the answers we are looking for, but we will be more than satisfied with what He gives us. He will give us Himself, showing us that He is a good, loving Father answering His children when they call to Him.

If we try to be more than He made us to be we are not allowing the world to see Him through us the way He really is. It's as if we feel He is lacking and we are trying to make Him look better. He sure doesn't need us to make Him look better - He can't look any better, He is God!

It's okay to not have the answers. It's not okay to stop asking. This is where our faith becomes our own and we grow in it.

We can always respond to anyone who asks "I don't know, but I know Who does!"

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Olympics, Coworkers, and Pinterest

The Olympics.  It is practically un-American to not watch at least some of it!  I mean, how can you NOT?  There is drama, tears of joy (and defeat) and perfectly round bruises on muscled bodies  caused by glass jars and fire!  There are young people and there are old people (after all, they do keep saying how old the 35 year olds are).  You stay up wayyyyy past your bed time to see it all unfold and it’s exhilarating.  Thrilling. 

I actually want to be like them.  Look like they do.  As I lay on the couch I think how I’d love to be able to swim that fast and flip that high and be in the shape they are.  As I lay on the couch. 

I confess I cannot keep my eyes off of their tummies!!  There, I said it!  Truthfully, their abdomens astonish me!  They are so flat!!!  So flat!!  I cannot look away!  When I do, I look down at mine and see the tummy I had when I was pregnant!  I want their tummies.  As I lay on the couch.

 
A co-worker said to me this week, “You are sooooo nice!  It makes me want to throw up in my mouth!” 

So, basically she thinks I am nice and it makes her sick.  What do I do with that?

Ummmmm, thank you?  Ummmmm, I’m pretty sure that it is a good thing right now for you that I am so nice or I would definitely say something other than “Ha ha”!!

I’ll make blueberry banana bread I said to myself.  (How is that for another change of subject?!The precious couple from church has not been there in a while because of health issues.  I’ll bless them with blueberry banana bread.  I’ll use a recipe I found on Pinterest.  I have blueberries and bananas.  It will be fun.  Nice!! 

Following the recipe verbatim (because that is what I do) I mix and scrape and pour and bake.  It comes out perfectly!  Picture perfect!  Pinterest perfect!

I let it cool and cut in to it.  “Oh my chili!!”  “What in the world??” What is that oozing out of the amazing looking crust?
 
My Pinterest picture went from looking perfect to a pile of gooey mush.  NONE of the inside was done!!  It was the consistency of the mashed up banana I put in there with chunks of blueberries swimming in it!!  (It actually looked like the blueberry banana bread threw up in it's mouth!!)

 
What happened?  Oven fail?  Operator fail?  This was definitely a Pinterest fail!!

Has that ever happened to you?  Your Pinterest try doesn’t look at all like the Pinterest pictures?  Grrrrr.

So, what in the world do the Olympics, Coworkers and Pinterest all have in common?  God used them to speak a few things in to my heart this week! 

Olympics--There are things I can and should change about myself but it will not happen automatically!   I must get off of the proverbial couch!  Quit dreaming and thinking and wishing!!  It takes lots of hard work and discipline and tenacity and prayer.  Get up and DO IT!  Loose that weight.  Clean that house.  Obey that command.  Feel that love!!  Accomplish that goal!

Coworker-- Christians are nice!  Christians should be nice!  Some people don’t like nice.  I need Christ to empower me to respond to coworkers in a way that glorifies Him.  Not everyone is going to like me.  (Ouch, that one really hurts.)  God has given me coworkers as my mission field.

Pinterest—Pinterest perfection should not be my goal or target.  I will fail (many, many times) and it is OK as long as my heart and mind are focused on Jesus and not what I think I am supposed to be or do.  I might look great on the outside…but on the inside I might be a mess.  Pictures do not tell all that is going on!!  People might look happy and great on the outside....but on the inside they are a messy pile of mush.  Look beneath the surface. 

God speaks to me.  A lot!  And I love how He speaks to me through everyday experiences as well as through His Word and prayer.  Help me to listen, Lord!

God speaks to you.  What is He saying?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Struggle Well


She walked in to the store and I, donned in my iconic Pier 1 blue apron, enthusiastically greeted her and genuinely wanted to help her in any way I could.  Within the first few seconds I discovered she has just moved to the Indianapolis area three weeks ago and was getting acclimated to the area and, as it should be, finding the nearest Pier 1 was of utmost priority (that is, after locating their kid's schools)!

While helping her find the clock she wanted I discovered that she lives in Greenwood (where we live) and our energy and vibes seemed to be identical.  She could be my friend”, I thought to myself.  This….this was a divine appointment.  I sensed it.  I knew it.

After leaving her alone for a while to search for other items to make her new home special (and so I could help other customers) we meet up again at the cash register.  It was there that I discover her husband is in the ministry!!  What in the world?  Mine is too!!!  We ooohhh and aaahhh and I give her my name and phone number for her to contact me and I could show her the local proverbial ropes, as it were.  We could be friends!!

Then it came out.  Right there at the counter she shares with me that she has a trust issue.  Their former church did not handle a family crisis they were going through well.  It was then I knew we were not done.  I got her name and phone number, gave her a great big hug, told her we were not done and she left.  She then was continually on my mind and heart. 

I expected her to text the next day or so.  After all, I was a catch of a friend!  I was fun!  I was a ministry wife!  I was a great listener.  I knew the fun places to go in the area.  I wasn’t a member of their new church.  Why didn’t she text?  (I now sound like a crazy girl waiting for a guy to call me for a date!!  What in the world??)

I’d call her but I kept forgetting to get her phone number out of my Pier 1 blue apron!!  I finally remember.  I text.  We set up a time and place.

We met yesterday morning at Panera Bread over cinnamon crunch bagels and Dr. Pepper (yes, she is a kindred spirit) and she began to share her story.  Terrifying, horrible, gut wrenching.

They were hurt (I am relating).  Abandoned (I am feeling her pain).  They went from living in a beautiful custom built 5,000 square foot house (not relating) making approximately $6,000 per month (totally not relating) to having nothing.  They went from serving a church with thousands of people they love and did life with to not being able to communicate with any of them.  Painful.  Terrible.  Heart breaking.

There is much more to her story….and many of us can totally relate to her struggles in ministry.  The disappointment.  Fears.  Hurts.  All of it.

Here is the question though.  WHEN we struggle (whether it’s ministry or personal or financial or marital or health or _______________)…not IF but WHEN…do we struggle well?  We hear the term “Live Well” but what about “Struggle Well”?

If you are struggling right now, I challenge you to “struggle well”.  Do it with your heart and mind and eyes focused on the One who loves you.  Struggle with hope.  Struggle with love. Struggle not dwelling on what is lost….but dwelling on what remains!!

Here is what she taught me.  If you are walking in the fog….F-O-G….walk in the Favor Of God!!!  Struggle well!!